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Our Dogs Killed our Goats - Looking for Support  RSS feed

 
Jordan Czeczuga
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This is my first time posting on this forum, and unfortunately it is under a sad topic.

Me and my wife have two dogs a German Shepard and a Staffordshire Terrier.  We have had them for almost 5 years.  It was through our dogs that we meet at the dog park.  They actually introduced us, and we have been married now for almost two years.  We both wanted to start our own homestead and two years ago bought a few acres with a home to create our own little homestead.  Obviously the dogs came with.  About 9 month back we added to our property 2 baby goats that we were going to start our herd from.  We installed an in ground electric fence to separate the dogs from the area the goats and chickens had.  We knew that they would not get along, and we needed to keep the separate.  The goats and chickens have their own fenced in acre. Everything seemed to be ok until last week we were on vacation and got a call from our friend who was watching the animals for us that she came home to find the dogs in the fenced in area for the goats, and the goats were dead.  We are both heartbroken that the dogs would do that, and we are at a loss of what to do.  We want to continue to follow our passion and keep goats on the property but don't know if that is possible with the dogs at this point.

I guess I am reaching out to see if anyone else has gone through this or if anyone has any advice or tips or what to do.

Thanks in advance

Jordan
 
chip sanft
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Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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I don't know about goats but everything I've read and seen with dogs says that unless the dog has a "care for others" attitude, it's very hard to get a dog used to a prey-type animal once it has grown up. The fact that you knew your dogs and goats wouldn't mix suggests this isn't likely to be possible for you.

That means you'd need to protect your goats. Since German shepherds are really smart and amstaffs are tenacious, you're talking about a serious fence.

I wonder if maybe another stock animal would work -- something much larger than a dog? The appeal might be greatly reduced if, say, what was inside the fence was a couple of adult horses or cattle. Both are readily available in at least some areas. Of course they eat a lot more, but depending on your situation and needs that might be one way to keep stock and your dogs.
 
Travis Johnson
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Sadly yes, and it was a German Shepard as well.

Really the dog was my wife's animal and after it killed several chickens and ducks she said, "get him out of here." I knew what she meant and I said, "he won't be coming back", and she said she did not care. He made a one way trip up into one of our fields. I told him, "you screwed up today buddy..."

A dog that kills cannot be trusted, and that not only includes livestock but children as well. Just last month a K9 dog took an infant out of a crib and nearly killed it and that dog is scheduled to be put down. There is enough liability on a farm with rates incredibly high. One of the issues with owning ANY animal is realizing we as humans must be responsible for them. Sometimes it means end of life care.

It sounds cold, but I have been on this forum for just about a year now and should really save this reply in a file because it crops up a lot. Sadly, once they make a choice, some dogs just cannot be trusted anymore.
 
Maureen Atsali
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I am sorry to say that I second what Travis says.  Once a dog learns about the "sport" of hunting and killing small livestock, no amount of training will get that safely out of their brain.  It clicks with something too instinctual. They will never be totally safe ever again.  And dogs will teach each other this behavior.  If you train them before they ever taste a kill, I do believe they can be trained, even adult dogs.  But not once they have started.  And we also never feed our animals raw meat when we slaughter.  We roast or boil waste product so they never get the "hmm, tastes like chicken" thought in their heads.  I had a beautiful dog who was raised with poultry and never bothered them... Until one day one of the kids fed him a raw duck head.  Two days later, he killed a duck.  Ditto with raw eggs.  I hate egg thieves.

I won't keep any dogs or cats that endanger my livelihood.  We have pretty good luck with raising them ourselves and training them.  But two dogs and two cats have been ousted from the homestead in the last six years.
 
James Freyr
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I have to agree with Maureen and Travis. I also think it's possible to have a setup where they can co-habitate, but you may need to redesign the electric fence. Do you know where the weak link they exploited was in the fence? You mentioned the goats have an entire acre, so I envisioned your fence is single lateral strands and not the net type. Perhaps doubling the number of strands and also making sure the strands go 5 or 6 feet high to discourage jumping over. What happened is very disheartening and discouraging, but don't give up. I believe a revised method can work, but the dogs will always be high risk for small livestock and chickens.
 
Todd Parr
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I would certainly build a good fence before I would kill my dogs.
 
Craig Dobbson
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A solid fence where they can't see each other is probably your best bet.  That, and as much distance as you can afford to put between the predators and prey.  If the prey know there's predators around, you'll have a hard time keeping both parties calm.  The goats will be nervous and stressed and the dogs will do their best to get at them eventually.  Dig, jump, climb or go through, they'll come up with something.  Either way, it's stressful on everyone.  Not to mention, that you'll be concerned about it happening again, which will add to your own stress. 

Maybe a larger animal like an alpaca or something else with some kicking strength would be a good goat substitute.  I guess then, it's the dogs that are in for it.  Tough decisions.
Sorry for your loss and I hope you find a good solution that works for all of you.
 
 
Bryant RedHawk
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We lost an entire litter ($1,050.00 worth) of new born hogs to one of our dogs (Boxer/Lab) last year.
We still have the dog and since his sister died of cancer, got a replacement, Catahoula Leopard Dog.
These dogs are "watch dogs" not LGD's and we keep good fences between them and our AGH registered hogs, chickens also are fenced to keep the dogs away.

Fences for keeping dogs out need to be at least 6 feet high and with one foot buried in the ground, with an additional layout piece of fence so the dogs would have to tunnel to get inside the fenced area.
Two electric wires are another way to keep dogs out of where they don't belong but you need a large enough shock charge to just about lay them out so we didn't go that direction "so far".

It is sad but there will be occasions where you have to get rid of the dog to save the live stock. You have to decide which way to go, fences or bye - bye dog(s).
We choose to do the fence and so far it works well.

If you want to try guard animals that will live with the live stock, donkeys are just about perfect, one or two kicks will discourage most all dogs.
There is a down side to this approach as well, a donkey can kill a dog just like they kill coyotes, so if the dogs were to persist, they might be injured, bitten in the neck, kicked hard enough to break their back, etc.

Homesteaders always have to face hard decisions and I am saddened that you now have some of these to make. I wish you good luck and wise choices.

Redhawk
 
Craig Dobbson
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I wonder if you had a livestock guardian dog, and made that dog the pack leader (after you of course), if that would help deter the other dogs from the bad behavior?  I have a Maremma that works with my other critters and helps to keep predators away.  He raids fox dens and steals coyote kills, but has never considered any of our domestic critters as food.  He'll go out in the morning and come back with a whole deer leg AND share it with the chickens.  It's hilarious to watch a chicken push an eighty pound dog out of the way of the fatty bits.  And he just moves over... silly dog.  He knows the difference between food and friends even though we give him scraps from when we butcher rabbits, chickens, ducks and pigs.  He won't mess with them while they are alive.  Maybe a pack leader like that will help get your dogs in line so you can have some peace.
 
R Ranson
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There is nothing quite so heartbreaking as losing an animal under your care to a predator.  Except, perhaps if that predator is one of your trusted family.  Sending kind thoughts to you during this tough time.

I don't think you can trust these dogs to be alone near livestock or children - not unless they have a very good fence and other securities.  If that happened locally, the dog would either be put down or legally required to wear a muzzle when not eating. 

It's a tough decision you have.  On one hand, you want to raise livestock, on the other, you can't trust your dogs again. 

It's also very difficult because you weren't there so you don't know how the dogs got in with the goats.  Could it be a moment of inattention on the part of your farm sitters?  Even if it wasn't the dogs fault or the fence's weakness, the dogs have killed and feasted on flesh.  It's awoken their instinct to hunt and I would be hard pressed to trust them again. 



 
Jordan Czeczuga
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Thank you all for the responses.  This definitely a challenging time, and one that is extremely hard since it was our dogs that we love. 

Has anyone every found another home for their dogs.  I just don't want to put them down, and they are loving dogs.  They just do not do well with livestock. 
 
Travis Johnson
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The rule on my farm is pretty straightforward: I do not pass problem animals (pets or livestock) off to anyone else.

The problem is not whether the animal can be trusted at your farm, the question is whether the animal can be trusted at all. You feel horrible now, but what if the animal was passed off to a friend who later had a baby and the dog injured it? Or your friend decided to get animals? Or your friend had neighbors that moved in and got animals that your dog later killed? The potential scenarios go on and on (not to mention the potential liability being traced back to you). How would you feel if these scenarios came to reality??

This is one of the reasons why in most of the dog versus human cases a judge has to order the dog to be put down, his verdict takes the emotion out of a hard decision.

 
Ben House
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I've had numerous dogs in my life, but growing up on a farm and in a farming family we learned that if the dogs killed livestock they got a hotdog (last meal), and a bullet.

I have two Catahoula Leopard Dogs one is about 2 years and the other is only about 8 months, I have chickens right now but we've always raised Dairy goats in the past. You just gotta keep on them when they are young and they get the picture.

My favorite way to get a dog is when its young, and you still have an older dog thats used to the livestock. The older dogs tends to teach the younger one lots about behavior towards the stock.

Dogs that kill livestock are like egg sucking dogs, We had an egg sucking dog one time (yellow lab). We did all sorts of things to try and break her of it, we even blew the guts out of and egg and filled it with hot sauce and tobacco juice. She seemed to like the spice, she ate that whole egg.

 
Su Ba
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Jordan said......"Has anyone every found another home for their dogs.  I just don't want to put them down, and they are loving dogs.  They just do not do well with livestock. "

Yes. In the past 12 years I have either found homes for dozens and dozens of such dogs or aided in finding homes. I volunteer for an organization called Kares, who offers rescue, neutering, and help for dogs in need. So around here, livestock killing dogs get rehomed successfully all the time. An example : a close friend of mine adopted a young dog that was not good with livestock. That dog went on to become a fantastic companion and farm dog for her. It's been ten years since she acquired the dog and redirected its behavioral problem. So yes, these dogs can have successful lives when placed into a different environment.

Every dog is different. I've seen some that were easy to train and safely rehome. But I've seen others that could never be trusted around livestock again. I've seen some that would attack only particular livestock species (for example, one of my own dogs is death to chickens but friendly to piglets, lambs, and kittens). And others who would transfer they aggression to even children. It all depends upon the individual dog.
 
Todd Parr
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Jordan Czeczuga wrote:Thank you all for the responses.  This definitely a challenging time, and one that is extremely hard since it was our dogs that we love. 

Has anyone every found another home for their dogs.  I just don't want to put them down, and they are loving dogs.  They just do not do well with livestock. 


Many, many people will have a place in their home for a good dog that hates livestock, children, other dogs, whatever.  You just have to be honest with them upfront.  A person that doesn't have chickens doesn't care if your dogs hate chickens.
 
Libbie Hawker
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I'm so sorry you've gone through this. It's really tough.

We always need to remember what various dog breeds were created to do. Those instincts and impulses are very powerful within the different breeds. People who advocate for certain breeds always seem to forget that those breeds have been shaped for generations to have specific behavioral characteristics. They are what they are; we can't change their natures just by hoping or wishing or believing that they can be different. Good training helps, but it won't eliminate natural behaviors.

Staffordshire terriers, like pit bulls and associated "bully" breeds, were created specifically to fight and kill other animals. It's my opinion that they shouldn't be kept on the same property as vulnerable animals that might fall prey to them. You didn't know your dog would behave this way--I understand that. And it's a shock to see a trusted pet behave this way, too. But he was doing what is natural for his kind.

Many German Shepherds are from protection/working/police-dog lines (rather than the original sheep-herding lines the breed started with) and have similar levels of drive and aggression.

I agree with Todd--it would be best at this point to find your dogs good homes with people who don't have livestock, children, cats, or other dogs, and be very clear with them about the dogs' histories. Be sure the people you give them to are well prepared to handle dogs that have shown aggression toward other animals, and understand what that entails. Lots of people are prepared to welcome dogs like this into their homes and can provide them safe, happy lives where they won't be tempted to attack other animals again.

I really do feel for you guys, since you met through these dogs. I know what a shock it is when a trusted dog exhibits unexpected behaviors. I used to be a dog trainer, so I saw this often. It's sad--but a lesson learned. Future dogs for your home should all be from carefully bred livestock lines with no propensity toward intra-species aggression.
 
K Putnam
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Owning animals of any kind is entirely about managing problems. 

Your dogs are adults and were not trained at a young age to behave around livestock.  Even purpose-bred dogs require some pretty vigilant training.

It's not their fault and it does not mean that they are bad dogs or that you are bad dog owners; it means you made a mistake in how you manage your animals.  Given that dogs, as a species, have a consistent track record of making Bad Doggy choices, it would probably be wise to develop a plan to contain your dogs any time you cannot supervise them rather than let them have the run of the property.   You might need to invest in better fencing for future goats or...more easily...fencing for your dogs.  They lived happy doggy lives before they had the run of your homestead; they can again. 

Best of luck to you.  Don't beat yourself up too badly.
 
Todd Parr
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Libbie Hawker wrote:
Staffordshire terriers, like pit bulls and associated "bully" breeds, were created specifically to fight and kill other animals. It's my opinion that they shouldn't be kept on the same property as vulnerable animals that might fall prey to them. You didn't know your dog would behave this way--I understand that. And it's a shock to see a trusted pet behave this way, too. But he was doing what is natural for his kind.


This is true to some degree, but there are many exceptions to the rule.  My two dogs are purebred APBTs and they are completely reliable around my cats, chickens, and children.  They don't chase the wild rabbits from my yard, they don't bother the deer.  They happily go with me to feed the chickens and walk around them like they aren't even there even the chickens are free-ranging on my two acres.  My dogs were around 6 and 7 when I got chickens for the first time.  My female can be somewhat dog aggressive and I know it, so I don't let her associate with other dogs.  Her son is the younger of the two, and he is fine with other dogs.  It is absolutely true that breed propensities exist, but it is critical to know your own dog.
 
Hester Winterbourne
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I think it's significant, and I'm not sure anyone has mentioned this, that the incident happened while you were away.  You as pack leaders, to whom the goats belonged, were absent for long enough that the dogs (not respecting the animal sitter) decided that you had relinquished the goats and they could "inherit" them. 
 
Hans Toof
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Please call me if anything said on this thread has you feeling burdened with guilt or at all considering slaughtering your beloved dogs. 412 804 8883 i keep a pack of 7 pitbulls with goats, sheep, cats and chickens. They have all tasted fresh blood from errors in the design or deployment of my vision. We all coexist. Anything is possible. Never give up!
 
Thomas Wown
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Super sad but kind of odd. If your German Shepard has been with you for so long, they know what you like or care for. Animals feel that. Especially a solid dog like a German Shephard. When my grandpa passed away he was very sad. One year on the exact date (Grandpa's death anniversary) he just went crazy. Not crazy violent but just wouldn't stop running around and barking. Sadly we had to put him down at that point . . . I don't think your dog killed those goats. I don't believe it. Do you have any proper evidence of that?
 
Lisa Gergets
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I don't have any words of advice for you, but I'm so very sorry that you're going through this.
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